Baseball Cracks Down on Pitchers for “sticky substances”
Major League Baseball is cracking down of the use of controlled substances, mainly the kind that pitchers use to manipulate the baseball. Coincidently, this could be anything from pine tar, sunscreen, rosin, and shaving cream. Then, Covid-19 changed the rules again including terminology to preclude pitchers from using their own saliva. Obviously, it was for hygienic reasons, to stop the spread of the virus. Now, Pitchers were given permission to use a wet rag in leiu of their licking fingers. And, water was designated the only substance allowed on the rag. Due to concern that players were using elicit substances on the rag, there were several rules negotiating the use of said rag and what could be put on it.
MLB’s Rules regarding “sticky substances” and pitching
“Pitchers may not access the rag while on the pitching rubber and must clearly wipe the fingers of his pitching hand dry before touching the ball or the pitcher’s plate,”
Subsequently, further rules include intentionally altering the ball physically, using substances, or applying rubberbands, sanding it down, or defacing the ball in any way. Read below for more detail on these rules.
“no player shall intentionally discolor or damage the ball by rubbing it with soil, rosin, paraffin, licorice, sand-paper, emery-paper or other foreign substance.”
Regarding the use of substance or any materials that help with the grip of the baseball,
A pitcher may not “apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball; deface the ball in any manner; have on his person, or in his possession, any foreign substance; or attach anything to his hand, any finger or either wrist.
For example, the use of a Band-Aid, tape, Super Glue, bracelet, etc.
As far as anyone can remember, foreign substances have been used in the game of baseball. Generations of pitchers looked to anything that could give them an edge in controlling the baseball and enhance spin and movement. Which led to baseball’s “sticky substances” like pine tar to increase grip of the ball and manipulate the spin or angle of their pitch.
How Would Cracking Down on “Sticky Substances” Effect the Game of baseball?
Without the reliance of “sticky substances,” spin rates of the baseball would change. The ball movement may look much differently. As pitchers adjust to the change of having less control over the ball, more players could be hit with pitches. Additionally, there would be a decrease in strikeouts, increase in walks, increase in offense.
The term, “sticky substances,” most commonly equates with pitching but it’s not just a pitcher problem. Balls batted in are also altered by the “sticky substances.” Therefore, it is a problem for everyone regardless of how the substances get there. Substances could be in use during pitching or applied directly on the bat. The trajectory of the ball can be altered to increased the height in which they are hit and the direction.
Cracking down on “sticky substances” is a move in the right direction in baseball. However, the way the MLB is handling the crackdowns is less to be desired. Checks interrupt the game, slowing it down further. Checks are done in front of everyone. This can result in payer embarassment and harrassment. Overall, it just looks unprofessional. Nevertheless, there must be a better way of cracking down on this problem while also maintaining the fluidity and professional nature of the game.
What Can MLB do to Lessen the Reliance of “Sticky Substances”?
Of course, they could induce fines and subspensions, even forefits for cheating to reduce the appeal of using “sticky substances.” However, it wouldn’t stop pitchers from trying get away with it. Upon stepping foot into the big leagues, pitchers are inudated with whatever “techniques” will give them the edge .
Actual solutions may include changing the make up the ball. Balls being too slick, is a common problem. So, if MLB would implement a stickier ball, it may be less of a need to employ illicit “sticky substances.” Rawlings has been working on a similiar solution for more than three years. The ideal model would be a ball that could retain its stickiness, behave like the old ball, and not be so bright that it’s overly easy to hit.
Pitchers getting frequent checks:
During a recent Mets game, umpired interrupted the game to check Degrom. Embarassingly, he had to undo his belt for a thorough check. Take a look below.
In regards to Scherzer, Girardi pointed singled him out, in the middle of the fourth inning. During that inning, Scherzer struck out Alec Bohm and then took off his hat, running his hand through his hair saturated with sweat. Coincidentally, Girardi argued that Scherzer had substances under his hat or in his hair. That didn’t sit well with Scherzer who responded angrily. The pitcher tossed his hat and glove onto the ground in dramatic fashion. All in all, it only accomplished making a scene and interrupting the game. Ultimately, the penalty for substance use will result in a 10-day suspension without pay.